Who will win the 2019 County Hurdle?
The County Hurdle is a Grade 3 handicap run on the new course where runners face eight hurdles over two miles and one furlong.
Usually, run at a fast and furious pace and was traditionally the festival finale "Get Out Stakes!" until 2009 whereas it's now the second race on "Gold Cup" Friday.
Read on below for our race preview which includes the County Hurdle ten-year trends, trainer stats and via the OLBG forum our expert tipsters thoughts on finding you the winner of the 2019 County Handicap Hurdle.
County Hurdle Last Ten Winners
The table below shows the last ten winners of the race, their age and weight at the time of winning, trainer, jockey and odds (starting price).
Miss B Andrews
|A J Martin
Ms K Walsh
G.B. 4 v 6 Ireland
Ireland hold the upper hand having won 8 of the past 12 renewals and despite Willie Mullins poor record in handicap chases (0 from 30) here at the festival over the past 20 years, he does have a good record in this handicap hurdle with 4 wins in the past 9 years.
Paul Nicholls has won this 4 times in the past 15 years and along with Dan Skelton who has won 2 of the last 3 County Hurdle's, are the only two British based trainers to break Ireland's stranglehold dating back to 2006.
Ireland also have the better wins to runners ratio with those 6 accompanied by a further 11 placed from 84 facing the tape whilst the British trained are 4 wins and 19 places from 178 runners.
County Hurdle Trends
Here are the standout trends for the past 20 renewals based on UK/IRE starts only:
- 18 / 20 OR not lower than their last start
- 18 / 20 Won no more than twice that season
- 18 / 20 Ran over 2m-2m1f LTO
- 17 / 20 Had made 4-14 starts over hurdles
- 17 / 20 First two finish within last three starts
- 17 / 20 Previously contested a Graded race
- 16 / 20 Had recorded 1-4 career wins
- 15 / 20 Were aged either 5yo or 6yo
- 0-152 Those with 23+ career starts
- 0-79 5lb & 7lb claimers
- 0-43 Wore cheekpieces or visor
County Hurdle Trends Analysis
We've seen a mix of fancied runners priced up around the 8/1 to 11/1 mark obliging along with half a dozen winners between 20/1 and 33's over the past 10 years.
Three of the four Willie Mullins winners according to the betting we're not the most fancied runner of the stable's entrants so don't be put off by large odds if again he has multiple entries.
Previous form at the course is one of the consistent trends in most of the races at Cheltenham but not for the County Hurdle with only one recent winner (Lac Fontana 2014) having won previously at Cheltenham.
The principal stepping stone over the past 20 years has been Newbury's Betfair Hurdle run in early February (ran at Ascot this season and won by Al Dancer who goes for the Supreme Novices Hurdle), four County Hurdle winners ran in that competitive handicap hurdle last time out and three came via Leopardstown's Boylesports.com Hurdle (2019 renewal won by Off You Go for the second year running, didn't run at Cheltenham in 2018) at the beginning of February.
No dominant sires of note over the past 20 years, all winners had a different sire and the only possible negative would be for Montjeu who is 0 wins and places from 12 runners.
Those having their final prep at Doncaster, Fontwell, Gowran Park, Haydock, Musselburgh or Naas are 0 wins and just 5 places from a combined 84 runners.
Do we get a big priced winner this year? It's always worth checking out which runners our racing tipsters are backing each-way and you can do so on the Cheltenham festival tips page.
County Hurdle Trainer Statistics
Six of the last ten winners hailed from the powerhouse stables of Willie Mullins (four winners) and Paul Nicholls.
Philip Hobbs has had a frustrating time in the County Hurdle, hitting the frame on six occasions in the last ten years. Four of those, his runner was priced at 33/1 or bigger (50/1 third in 2017), so give full attention to any big priced runner from the Hobbs yard.
Tony Martin's runners usually set the bookmakers on full alert and they appear to be correct when it comes to his runners in the County Hurdle. Martin has had just four runners over the last ten years but won the race with Ted Veale in 2013 and went close with Quick Jack in 2015.
Surprisingly Nicky Henderson has a dismal recent record in the County Hurdle with just one of his 16 runners in the last ten years making the frame. Perhaps the handicapper takes no chances when accessing his horses?
Below is a table of how some of the other top trainers have fared in the last ten years:
|Mullins, W P||27||4||9||+52.00|
|Nicholls, P F||15||2||3||+18.00|
|Martin, A J||4||1||2||+7.00|
|Henderson, N J||16||0||1||-16.00|
|Hobbs, P J||14||0||6||-14.00|
|Pipe, D E||10||0||0||-10.00|
*Places include winners factored into the number